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  1. #1

    /boot partition. what is it? and other questions...

    so far, in my quest to get a working version of linux, i havent found any version that installs GRUB correctly (exception being fedora core 6, but that doesnt work at all on my machine)

    on pretty much all linux installations i get a question that asks if i want GRUB placed on the MBR (i know what that is) or the /boot or /root partition.

    i dont know what /boot or /root partitions are, or how to create them manually.

    what is a /boot partition?
    what format should it be (ext2, ext3, fat16 etc..) ?
    should they be set as active partitions. ? if so, how? (there seems no option in qtparted, gparted or partition magic to set active partitions)

    how big should the partition be and why. ?
    how does a simple partition on the hardrive, boot up the machine, when the mbr will take precedence automatically surely?
    should a /boot partition be set as logical or primary?

    ive looked at qtparted on kubuntu live cd, but it doesnt have any option for creating a /boot or /root partition. only options it has are ext3, swap etc..etc...

    any help appreciated as its the booting stage thats stopping me from using the likes of knoppix on hd or kubuntu etc.

  2. #2
    I think you are confused by the traditional way of installation by some distro, most notable is Fedora or any member of the Red Hat family.

    Red Hat family has a long tradition of association with servers and it is trying very hard, against the more capable RAID systems, to stick with LVM which is not recognised by Linux boot loader Grub or Lilo. Thus Red Hat distro could possibly install inside a LVM unless intervened by the user. As a consequence a separate partition is used to house /boot which is just a subdirectory to "/". The partition that house the root of the Linux "/" is the root partition.

    Some Linux users prefer the xfs filing system for installation of Linux but the xfs filing system uses up the boot sector and so no boot loader can be installed there. That would be another reason of needing a /boot partition.

    The last relevant need of /boot on its own partition was when the Linux boot loader Lilo or Loadlin could not address a hard disk beyond the 1024 cylinders and so /boot is created so that the kernel can be reached within the first 1024 cylinder range. That limitation has been removed by by later versions of Lilo but users are still following the tradition.

    /boot is the location for the kernels and initrd files. Grub always resides in /boot.

    If you install a Linux in a single partition then that will be automatically its root partition and all /boot, /home, /usr, /var and whatever used by that distro are just subdirectories inside the main "/" directory.

    There is no distro I met that refuses to be installed into a single partition. I would recommend Linux users to try the single partition first as it is a lot easier to boot, to maintain, to resize and to migrate.

    I boot Linux from the 1st to the 63th partition in the hard disk and could not see any benefit from having a separate /boot partition nowadays, except necessitated by the technical reasons outlined above.

  3. #3
    Linux Guru Lakshmipathi's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    3rd rock from sun - Often seen near moon


    That's very informative one.I got a doubt too,
    What's advantage of having /home in separate partition?
    First they ignore you,Then they laugh at you,Then they fight with you,Then you win. - M.K.Gandhi
    FOSS India Award winning ext3fs Undelete tool Online Linux Terminal

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  5. #4
    The /home is for personal data which can be potentially shared among different distros if it is hosted in its own partition. During installation of additional distros a user can nominate this partition to serve as /home.

    Equally one can make any partition in fat32 to store his/her personal data and mount in in Linux whenever wanted. Data-only partition in fat32 is recognised and supported by all the major operating systems. The disadvantage of a fat32 filing system is it does not have a file protection mechanism built in but there is nothing to stop a user to opt for a Ext2/3 partition for the same purpose.

    The former is preferred in a server if the admin wants to set up different access protocols to suit different users or /home is used for storing a huge amount of common data.

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